One of the most destructive and deadly storms of recent times was Hurricane Sandy. It struck the East Coast in 2012 as a “super storm” that was a stunning 900 miles in diameter. This was exacerbated by its convergence with a huge Arctic low-pressure system as well as extremely high tides.
While most East Coast hurricanes have a minimal storm surge due to approaching from a southerly direction, Hurricane Sandy was unique in that it zinged west, hitting the coast of New Jersey directly. Its October 29 landfall brought 95 miles per hour winds, 12.5 inches of rain and a storm surge that was in some cases 12 feet high.
Hurricane Insurance Claims and Lawsuits Spike After a Major Disaster
Low-lying coastal areas in New Jersey and New York were hit hardest. The devastating storm surge caused by Hurricane Sandy resulted in abnormally high water levels in part due to hurricane-force winds from offshore. The result was a veritable wall of seawater 12.5 feet tall on some parts of the coast.
A staggering number of homes were flooded, and over 100 Americans lost their lives. More than 8.5 million people lost power. Portions of New York City’s subway system became submerged as well, and the estimated costs to the region are over $50 billion.
Insured home owners who were affected by the Hurricane Sandy disaster believed they were entitled to compensation for their losses. Some of the areas in which they sought compensation included:
Exterior property damage. Damage to the exterior of a home due to flooding, fallen trees, damage to the roof or other external components were common reasons for insurance claims.
Structural damage. Destruction caused to the basic structure of the home triggered many insurance claims as well.
Personal property damage. The loss of personal property would include furniture, clothing, food and related household items.
Wind damage. Damage caused specifically by wind could result in broken windows, torn siding and other damages.
Fire damage. In some cases, fires broke out due to the internal damages to home and businesses.
Plumbing and electrical damage. Issues caused by the storm in many cases did profound damage to the plumbing and electrical systems of properties.
Vehicle damage. Cars left behind were often damaged to the point of no longer being usable.
Rain, flooding and storm surge damage. Of course, the excess water is often a primary cause of profound damage to homes and businesses during a hurricane.
The Waiving of Deductibles
The hurricane deductible for most policy holders is from one to five percent of the home value. This deductible must usually be paid up front before the homeowner can receive their full damage payment from the insurance company.
In an unprecedented move for a disaster of this size, officials for the governments of New Jersey and New York announced homeowners would not have to pay their hurricane insurance deductibles, often to the tune of thousands of dollars per policy holder. The stated reason was because just before landfall, the storm was technically downgraded to something called a “Post-Tropical Cyclone.”
After the Storm: Filing an Insurance Claim
Property damage sustained as a result of a hurricane or any type of storm requires immediate action. The following steps can ensure the claim is protected and that funds will be paid:
Filing a claim. The insurance company should be contacted promptly, and a claim filed as soon as possible.
Photos. Take high quality photos and videos of the damage.
Keep records. Receipts, photos, videos and other documentation should be stored in a secure location. Keep a log of all interactions with the insurance company including date, time, agent and subject of each conversation.
Take protective measures. Necessary repairs should be made to help prevent any further damage to the home; however, permanent repairs should not be made until after the insurance company inspection.
Adding Insult to Injury: Insurance Claim Denials
The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy brought severe property damage to thousands of people, with an estimated $10 to 20 billion in losses for insured persons. These people entrusted their insurance companies with handling their situation and insurance claim in “good faith” in their time of need. After all, this is why insurance claims are taken out – especially by those who live on a coastal area that could be affected by a hurricane.
However, in all too many cases, Hurricane Sandy led to a surge of insurance companies under-compensating or altogether overlooking valid insurance claims.
If this ever happens to you, you do have recourse. Our skilled attorneys can make your case and fight for your hurricane insurance rights. You don’t have to go it alone.